Atreus woke with a gross hunger. The icy air of Fimbulwinter stung always stung his skin, even when he was inside the cabin. Laying down any longer proved to be excruciating; he sat up, hunched over the edge of his cot, and waited for the pain to pass. During the past few weeks, food was incredibly scarce. Fimbulwinter made it hard for wildlife to grow and for animals to graze, so whatever he and his father could catch was savored and cherished. The last thing they caught was a meek deer, not nearly the size of the average buck. Atreus could tell it was underdeveloped and probably starving. He felt it was… wrong… to kill the deer. It was just trying to survive, as they were. His father killed the deer in a single strike. That was… 5 days ago, now. They managed to eat the animal in just under two days, its body weight proved meek, as it alone was barely enough to call a meal. His stomach began to turn over and the pain started to pass.
Atreus couldn't live like this any longer. His mother would never let him. He had remembered her sweet voice, her tenderness, and her loving face. Wanting so dearly to remember her loving light, the blurred sight in his mind became painful and he was quick to brush it away. It had been six months since her ashes were spread, her final wish had been fulfilled and her memory was forever embedded into their thoughts, still tender to look back upon.
Atreus turned his head to Mimir, who rightfully claimed a ruffed blanket on the table where he and his father would eat. The reanimated head’s spot was a result of the boy's expertise of convincing his father that he was still useful. Mimir’s eyes were closed though he could have sworn he could see their yellow glow through his eyelids. He turns his head to his father, snoring. He could very faintly see his frozen breath as it left his beard. Atreus turned his focus back to Mimir, whose breath he could see as well. Could he even still breathe? Could he still eat? Drink? Atreus often pondered about the magic that reawoke their decapitated companion; however, the middle of the night is no time to bombard him with questions. Atreus threw his legs off his bed and stared at the crippled fire pit. The light of the moon beamed down on the snow every night, illuminating the cabin in favor of a fire. It made a beautiful sight outside if it wasn’t so damn cold. He looked back up to Mimir, who looks to have shifted for a second.
“Mimir?” He tried as quiet as he could. Mimir's eyes flickered through the bottom of the closed lids, stuttering open, the golden shine starting at the table, then over to who called his name.
“Something wrong, little brother?” He mutters, a little louder at first, then quietly, realizing that his father was still asleep.
“Can you see any...leftovers? Over there? Anything at all?” Atreus raised his voice only a little, unintentionally sounding desperate. He watched as the shine of Mimir's eyes panned the room, searching on the floor, searching on the table beneath him, and finally, searching on the wall, perhaps for any forgotten animal they had salted and strung up. Atreus looked at the same wall and saw nothing in the darkness.
“None in my peripherals. Sorry, lad.” Mimir's eyeshine rolled to the table beneath him again. Mimir had opted to stay at the cabin while Atreus and his father went hunting in the past few weeks. He could see why. Fimbulwinter had an upset of blizzards just about every other month, this one being the ill-fated. The head just didn't want to be out in the cold. Atreus let out a sigh, then hunched over as the familiar pain returned, he couldn't even think to help the loud groan that left his lips.
“Boy.” His voice made the child stop cold. He heard his father shift and turn his body around to face the fire pit. He propped himself up with one of his elbows and his eyes peered into the boy. Atreus was sure eventually he was going to suffocate by how tense his presence made him.
“Are you alright?” his voice sounding quieter than when he first spoke. A wave of relief washed over the boy. He’s just worried, he thought, trying to calm himself down.
“Yeah. Just...hungry.” Atreus rubbed the back of his neck. Kratos could understand completely, as he was sure the boy’s body needed it, but there were times when he let his own body go weeks without food, he supposed it was a small perk of being a God. But Atreus is only part-God. And a child. “Father?” He looked to his son, who had pushed off the bed and took a step towards the larger bed. “Maybe now...we can hunt in other realms?” His son turned his gaze to meet him.
“No. I told you that is the last resort.” Kratos shot the idea down immediately. They had killed 3 Gods, all of Asgard is probably looking for them right now, it was way too dangerous to realm travel, or even travel around Midgard. Not without a new protection stave, at least. Freya would never serve them again. He was reluctant to ask the dwarves, well really only Sindri, since Brok would probably insult the craft and give no help. Somehow Kratos knew Sindri would drag on about cleanliness, then would probably ask another favor in return. The loud growl of the boy's stomach made Kratos snap from his thoughts. Atreus hunched over and tried to force the air out of himself to ease the pain, but it was already in full force.
Kratos couldn't stand to watch his son in pain. He sighed and stood from his bed. Atreus peered up to the towering God, half expecting him to pick him up and put him back to bed. But instead, he turned and walked to the small shelf in the corner of their home, near the door. Atreus tilted his head as he watched the dark figure of his father start to rummage behind some pots and bowls on the shelf that he himself was too short to reach. Within a few seconds, Kratos turned back to his son, a decent sized clay flask in his hand. Atreus couldn't make out the detail that was painted on it as his father stopped in front of him and presented the flask. He was too tired to read it, but he felt like he knew it was his father's language. Kratos took a knee in front of the boy and started to remove the cork. Once the cork was free, a strong stench of alcohol filled the boy's nostrils, but he made no effort to wince at it.
“Drink.” his father instructed, holding the flask by the neck and holding it out to him.
“What is it?” Atreus was reluctant to grab at the rough, deteriorated clay.
“Spartan Ouzo. From the place of my youth. It is made to combat hunger when there was famine. I made sure there was plenty for my army, at times we would travel weeks without food.” Kratos’ deep voice in a tone that wasn't negative warmed the boy. It wasn't a story, those, however; he loved, but this was enough to sate him. Atreus started for the flask, the gritty feeling of the cold clay bothered him, and he realized there wasn't much left. He brought the rim to his nose and sniffed, only to pull back at the strong scent.
“Is it… safe?” He asked, before bringing it close to his face again, it smells like shit.
“....it will not kill you. I know that.” Kratos let a small smirk cross his lips as he jested with the boy. He watched as Atreus lifted the flask to his lips and tilt his head back. Atreus winced at the sour, potent taste but let the liquor fill him, and warm him. He felt the pain of the hunger strike it's worst, then sighed as the wave of relief of something finally filling his stomach washed over him. He had only drunk half of what was left before bringing his head back to his father. The God looked content on watching him find comfort. Kratos started to shift off his knee and stand but the boy's free hand snapped to his leg and kept him on the ground. Atreus pushed the clay container out from his chest and closer to his father. Staring at the flask for a moment, he realized Atreus was offering him the rest. Kratos pushed it away with his palm brushing the bottom of the clay with his fingertips and declining with a gentle shake of the head.
“You're hungry too, right? You can drink the rest. I'll be fine.” Atreus pushed the flask back. The old God wasn't hungry, but if it would help the boy sleep, knowing his father was well; Kratos took the bottle from the boy in defeat and tilt the rim back to his lips. The warm memories of his army and his glory days ran over his mind, the alcohol, sweet to him, it tasted just as good as it did on the battlefield, even if it was a few hundred years old. Kratos pulled the newly empty flask away from his mouth and put the cork back into its place. Standing back up, he returned to the shelf and placed it where it could easily be seen in the morning, so he may find another use for it later. He looked to his son, who was staring intently at him, at the same time backing up into his bed again.
“Back to bed, boy. Tomorrow. We will see what we can find.” He began to take steps towards the larger bed, watching the child closely.
Atreus shrugged and hopped back onto his cot, as did the old God. Kratos laid his head flat, and forced his eyes closed, preparing himself to inevitably fall back to sleep.
“Goodnight, father.” he heard softly from Atreus. Without a second thought, he warmly replied:
“Goodnight, son.” And the two fell silent.